Entertainers and politicians are often cited as saying there is no such thing as bad publicity.
However, former Fullerton City Manager Joe Burt Felz is not a professional politician or entertainer, although his political machinations and his alcohol-induced behavior have been cause for entertainment.
You will certainly recall Felz’s now infamous “Wild Ride” in which the badly inebriated Felz took a wide turn on Glenview Drive, ran over poor Sappy McTree, and then tried to elude the cops on on three tires. His subsequent catch and release by a corrupt Fullerton Police Department is now the stuff of legend – and the cover-up of which is the cause of the City’s egregious lawsuit against Joshua Ferguson and this very humble blog.
Well it turns out Joe has been misbehavin’ and not following his court mandated service. His probation was revoked on December 6, 2019.
A hearing to to review Poor Joe Burt’s violation was held December, last.
Who knows if Felz has ever bothered to delve into the mysteries of Victim Impact Counseling? And who knows if he got, or will get a pass because, after all, judges are just public employees in silly robes? And they always stick together.
Our esteemed City Council appointed lobbyist-councilcreature Jennifer Fitzgerald to be the new mayor a couple weeks ago. Supposedly it’s her turn again. How and why Jan Flory was appointed Mayor Pro Tem is anybody’s guess, especially since Bruce Whitaker and Ahmad Zahra have been on the council longer without appointment – supposedly the criterion for getting the job.
Zahra and Jesus Silva Quirk are no doubt angling to grab the mayor titlee when they run for re-election in 2022. They aren’t too bright, but they’re smart enough to count in four-year increments.
But the nasty machinations of our talent-free council are not the point of this post, merely a rolling introduction. What I really want to share is the completely self-serving and fraudulent mayoral bio Ms. Fitzgerald has placed on the City’s website, the first two paragraphs of which I reproduce here:
Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald was elected to the Fullerton City Council in November 2012 and served as Mayor Pro Tem in 2014/2015 and Mayor in 2015/2016. In her first three years in office, Mayor Fitzgerald played a key role in several significant accomplishments, including a $3.5 million retroactive refund of water rate overcharges, public safety reform, a substantive increase in funding to repair the city’s aging roads and water infrastructure, and adoption of new transparency measures for public employee labor negotiations.
Mayor Fitzgerald represents the City of Fullerton on the Board of Directors for the Association of California Cities-Orange County Chapter and she is a Member of the Board of Directors for the Orange County Taxpayers Association. She is a former Metropolitan Water District Director, Past President of the North Orange County Chamber (formerly Fullerton Chamber of Commerce) and past Member of the Board of Directors for the Fullerton Historic Theater Foundation. Previously, she served the City of Fullerton on its Planning Commission and General Plan Advisory Committee.
It’s pretty bad that Fitzgerald is trying to take credit for the water refund she fought tooth and nail to minimize. It’s worse that she is trying to get gullible folks to think she has done anything about police reform , when in reality she has been an ardent defender of cover-ups for eight years – including hush-up settlements and even being implicated in hiding the drunk hit-and-run perpetrated by her buddy Joe “Wild Ride” Felz. The unkindest cut of all may be her bragging about “increased funding” for street and water infrastructure that she and her comrades let sink into a deplorable mess – the worst in Orange County.
At least this go ’round she omits her oft-repeated lie that she has balanced budgets, but her re-election campaign material will no doubt rectify the omission. I’ll be checking into that.
And finally I direct your attention to paragraph two, wherein the tone deaf Fitzgerald blithely recaps all the public money laundering agencies she has consorted with, peddling her wares as a lobbyist for one of the greasiest operators in OC – Curt Pringle.
Fullerton, like most departments, has a problem reminiscent of Serpico and this problem is years in the making. This problem is part of the story of the sordid “Culture of Corruption” that was documented after the Kelly Thomas beating. This veritable Serpico problem is a cancer within the system where once in uniform even good people turn a blind eye to corruption and stand idle as their unions and water carriers work to stomp on both people working towards and laws aimed at transparency.
For those unfamiliar with Frank Serpico he was an officer in the NYPD who stood up against widespread corruption and suffered for this crime against the Blue Wall of Silence. When he was shot in the face in the line of duty his fellow officers went so far as refusing to call for help.
This reverse Serpico problem is the common issue of Officers refusing to speak out, refusing to stand up and refusing to be good ethical humans for fear of reprisals from their brothers and sisters in blue.
Today I want to tell a story that should have been told some time ago – the tale of how ethics can get you fired at Fullerton PD.
I’d like to tell you about one Corporal Paul Irish.
You see, Corporal Irish was fired for dishonesty. A year or so ago I spoke to Paul and I was given copies of the files related to his termination. Honestly I didn’t know what to do with what he gave me and I sort of let it sit waiting for the time to really dig into it. Life, kids, you know the drill. That box sat in my garage patiently waiting for me to have time. Skip ahead and, well, the city cost me my job recently and I find myself with more time on my hands. So I got to reading.
To sum up hundreds of pages of paperwork — what Corporal Irish DID was, allegedly, tell his supervisors he was giving a talk on seat belt safety when he actually gave a talk on ethics. When they hammered him for his dishonesty on what his talk was about they ran a full investigation into the issue which ultimately led to his termination for more alleged dishonesty.
The transcript of the talk is [HERE] and the actual audio as recorded by Corporal Irish is here;
According to the information I have seen, these are the charges for which Corporal Irish was fired:
PSB #2014-72IA Investigation
Corporal Paul Irish
Potential Policy Violations:
340.3.5 (g) – within policy
Recommendation to Staff: Not within policy – Termination Approved
That’s a bunch of jargon so I’ll allow the Fullerton Police Department’s Policy Manual chapter on Conduct explain all that legal speak:
(h)Knowingly making false, misleading or malicious statements that are reasonably calculated to harm or destroy the reputation, authority or official standing of the Department or members thereof.
(i)The falsification of any work-related records, the making of misleading entries or statements with the intent to deceive, or the willful and unauthorized destruction and/or mutilation of any department record, book, paper or document.
(l)Any knowing or negligent violation of the provisions of the department manual, operating procedures or other written directive of an authorized supervisor. Employees shall familiarize themselves with and be responsible for compliance with each of the above and the Department shall make each available to the employees.
(n)Criminal, dishonest, infamous or disgraceful conduct adversely affecting the employee/employer relationship, whether on or off duty.
(z)Any other on-duty or off-duty conduct which any employee knows or reasonably should know is unbecoming a member of the Department or which is contrary to good order, efficiency or morale, or which tends to reflect unfavorably upon the Department or its members.
Remember, this all stems from Corporal Irish giving a talk on ethics that his supervisors didn’t approve of him giving and being mad at being “lied to” about said briefing.
This should be put into some context with current events in order to explain the aforementioned Serpico problem. When some cops are fired for seemingly trivial issues while others are given a pass for egregious conduct it sets bad examples. It tells Officers who to follow, which lies are okay and where things stand in regards to the Blue Wall of Silence. This is how a cancer grows in a department. A blind and subservient government is how it remains untreated and metastasizes.
This year, thanks to this blog, we learned that Fullerton PD and Fullerton City Hall worked to enter into an agreement in order to shield Lieutenant Kathryn Hamel from the disclosure of her crimes. The city was willing to stop investigations in order to protect her, the wife of Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel, from any sustained findings of dishonesty which would have made her crimes public records under the CA law known as SB1421.
Currently there is an also an officer, Jeff Corbett, being charged with a felony for falsifying his reports as related to the drinking and driving of former Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz in November 2016. That Sergeant was only terminated after a friend of this blog filed a citizen complaint which triggered an investigation which led to a sustained finding of dishonesty. Only AFTER that investigation was concluded in September of 2017 did FPD open their own investigation and terminate Corbett.
These are current issues at the Fullerton Police Department as ignored by our current City Council, City Hall and police brass.
The hearings over Irish’s termination went through 2016 and well into 2017 while Sergeant Corbett was being given a pass for clearly violating department policy during the Felz incident. This is at best an inconsistent application of policy and a strong indicator of favoritism in the department – ergo, cancer.
If you think I’m being hyperbolic about comparing Paul Irish to Frank Serpico in premise, in the notion that the Department will crush one of their own to cover their corruption or incompetence – remember that I’m being sued, along with David Curlee and this blog, for allegedly clicking links and posting stories that showed police misconduct. Stories that showed the Kathryn Hamel deal. A story about a pervert cop at Fullerton High School that FPD and City Hall wanted kept secret. The city has never disputed those stories, or others – they’ve just demanded we remove the truth from this site while defaming us as thieves and hackers.
Your tax dollars are being used to punish us not because we allegedly clicked links and thus broke a federal law in the process. We’re being sued because we, yet again, embarrassed Fullerton PD by pointing out corruption and malfeasance and my records requests, if fulfilled as required by law, would embarrass them further. They’re using your money and the courts to intimidate and attempt to silence us because we again stepped out of line. We got in the way of the Blue Wall of Silence and both those in uniform and those in charge at City Hall are too self-interested and too cowardly to stand up for what is right. Too worried about their pensions, campaign dollars and cronyism to be ethical. They preach integrity and practice treachery.
Sadly the tale of Paul Irish is just another in a long line of such stories. A story of the government using it’s weight to silence dissent. A story about government arrogance crushing a voice even when it comes in the form of an officer talking about the things the Police Department hypocritically displays on their own walls. Ethics used during times of convenience are no ethics at all.
As many Friends now know, the City of Fullerton has decided to move on from bullying language to actually sue FFFF. Here’s a summation from The Voice of OC.
Domer. So much less there than meets the eye.
The City has also posted a ponderous press release on its website, written in the high dudgeon of a bureaucrat whom you suspect already realizes that diverting attention from his own bungling by blaming somebody else, may be harder to pull off than he had hoped. Here’s our $230,000 per year City Manager Ken Domer trying desperately to seize some sort of high moral ground:
“The City was forced into taking legal action to protect the privacy of current and former employees and the public, and to ensure compliance with applicable law to include the California Public Records Act,” stated Fullerton City Manager, Ken Domer. “We are working aggressively on behalf of those affected and took immediate actions to put in place a more secure information technology environment. These actions support our philosophy of transparent access to information while protecting confidential information from the unethical and illegal actions of a few.”
Now I don’t know about you, Friends, but I find the words “unethical” and “illegal” to be pretty funny tumbling out of the mouth of Domer, whose only aim in his short tenure in Fullerton seems to have been to fight a rear-guard action against transparency. Domer’s self-righteous indignation is comical coming from the lackey of serial liars on the City Council – people like Jan Flory who is, and always has been, dangerously allergic to the truth; like Jennifer Fitzgerald who has not yet seen an ethical barrier she couldn’t sidestep; and like Doug “Bud” Chaffee who was complicit in his wife’s phony carpetbagging address and stealing campaign signs she didn’t like.
The budget is balanced and the cops are tip-top. Or else.
We need only reflect on the way the City has bent over backwards to cover-up the scandal of Wild Ride Joe Felz to know that what Domer is peddling about is utter bullshit.
And as further proof (if we needed any), let us pause for a moment to consider the following snippet from Domer’s press release:
Based on evidence uncovered in our internal investigation and direction from the City Council, the City Attorney’s Office has now filed a complaint in Superior Court seeking a temporary restraining order against the involved Blog and its contributors.
Say what? Direction from the City Council? When O’ when did that ever occur? The issue of whether or not to take FFFF to court has never been publicly agendized and never voted on by the City Council. The subject has never been discussed by our marble-mouthed City Attorney, Dick Jones reporting out of Closed Session.
Domer says he has a “philosophy” of transparent access to information. His actions give us a crystal-clear view of what that philosophy really is: stall, hide, deceive, misrepresent, and ass-cover.
You may have already seen the story and/or press release from the City of Fullerton articulating their lawsuit against myself, Friends for Fullerton’s Future and others.
You can read the Voice of OC’s write up on this lawsuit from the city [HERE]:
“Fullerton city attorneys are heading into Orange County Superior Court Friday to ask a judge for a temporary restraining order against resident Joshua Ferguson and a local blog to keep them from deleting city records they obtained and also asking a judge to appoint someone to comb through electronic devices for the records.”
That lawsuit from the city is retaliation for a Public Records Lawsuit I filed against the city last week which was written up by the Voice of OC [HERE]:
“Fullerton residents may soon find out exactly how former City Manager Joe Felz was given a ride home by Fullerton police officers after hitting a tree and trying to flee the scene following drinking on election night in 2016, after resident Joshua Ferguson filed a lawsuit against the city to produce police body camera footage from that night.”
I will have more details in the near future but our current response is HERE]:
“The basic purpose of the First Amendment is to prevent the government from imposing prior restraints against the press. “Regardless of how beneficent-sounding the purposes of controlling the press might be,” the Court has “remain[ed] intensely skeptical about those measures that would allow government to insinuate itself into the editorial rooms of this Nation’s press.” (Nebraska Press, 427 U.S. at 560-561.)
“Consistent with that principle, over the last 75 years, the United States Supreme Court repeatedly has struck down prior restraints that limited the press’ right to report about court proceedings. The Court has made clear that a prior restraint may be contemplated only in the rarest circumstances, such as where necessary to prevent the dissemination of information about troop movements during wartime, Near, 283 U.S. at 716, or to “suppress information that would set in motion a nuclear
holocaust.” (New York Times, 403 U.S. at 726 (Brennan, J., concurring).)
“This case does not come close to presenting such extraordinary circumstances. Thus, the City cannot prevail as a matter of law, regardless of how the records were originally obtained. The City’s requests are flatly unconstitutional in and Defendants, therefore, respectfully request this Court denying the City’s request in its entirely.”
More to come as these two cases play out in court.
Friends, an environmental symbiosis exists in nature when two organisms interact in a way that is mutually beneficial. In the course of human organizational activity we see such symbioses frequently. In the nasty intersection of government and politics such relationships are depressingly common. And nowhere can we see this operation in better form than in the way Fullerton’s politics intersect the management of police business, a business that affects everybody.
Let me begin my essay with a recitation of police behavior in our town that ought to give any decent person reason to give a second thought to nonsense pitched by both the government and the media.
See this badge? It means honesty and integrity. Or not.
In all of his endeavors Hughes was serially assisted by the smarmy and arrogant Andrew Goodrich, former union goon and, not coincidentally, the otiose and corpulent spokeshole for department. Friends will recall that it was Goodrich who immediately promulgated lies about cops getting broken bones in the aftermath of the Thomas bludgeoning by his cohorts. Goodrich was caught by FFFF over the years selling so much garbage that he was actually nominated for a coveted Fringie® in 2011.
GOD MODE ACTIVATED. Lookin’ out for the ladies, oh yeah!
Some of FPD’s bad behavior has suggested a sexual pervy streak running through the department, and a predilection for looking the other way about it. Albert “Alby Al” Rincon, instead of being fired and prosecuted by McKinley for sexual battery, continued to roam Fullerton’s streets looking for victims – gals he no doubt figured would keep their mouths shut. They didn’t, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands and the City a reprimand from a federal judge. Naturally no charges were ever filed.
Recently we’ve been favored with the story of tubby ginger boy Jose Paez, whose “crime” according to tough guy DA Todd Spitzer, was the unauthorized photographing of his victims. Unfortunately for the girls and women he associated with as a school officer in the FJUHSD, what he was taking pictures of was their undergarments – while they were being worn.
How ’bout a date, honey?
A few months ago the story leaked out about an enterprising young FPD lad named Christopher Chiu, who seems to have found a persuasive way to talk a young woman out of her clothes on the top of the Lemon/Chapman parking structure so he could examine her breasts and nether parts in search of “evidence.” Before the courtly charm of playing doctor wore off, he suggested his availability for a dinner date. Yikes.
Former Sergeant Jeff Corbettwas actaully rung up for obstructing justice although seamy stories about sexual escapades while on duty have been circulating for a long time. But to be fair to poor Jeff, it was sending Wild Ride Joe Felz home after the hit-and-run of Sappy McTree that got him busted.
Apart from uncontrolled libido, the gallant gents of the FPD have often displayed their ethical sensibility in an orgy of mayhem against people who hadn’t done anything wrong, or by simply revealing how little they care for the basic concepts of justice. Maybe the cultural shift to full-on violence and callousness was the result of Pat McKinley’s well-known militarization of the FPD.
Jay Cicinelli is known across the globe as the goon who smashed in Kelly Thomas’s face with a Taser handle and admitted it on tape. This one-eyed jack was employed by McKinley as a favor to an old LAPD crony. Now this twice disqualified creep actually wants (or wants us to believe he does) his job back!
The gift that keeps giving…
Our obese old pal Manuel Ramos had a long history of lazy and oafish behavior as an FPD cop, culminating in the actions that instigated Kelly Thomas’s death. Bully? Check. Overweight slob? Check. Natural born prick? Double Check. FPD material all the way.
Over the years FFFF has related stories from the citizenry about abusive and violent behavior of Fullerton’s cops, particularly those patrolling downtown open air booze court. But none of these stories can equal the brutality and the callous treatment of Veth Mam by one Kenton Hampton. See, Hampton’s official version of the story got real fuzzy after it became clear that his recollection of events strained even the credulity of an OC jury past the breaking point, especially when video evidence showed up in court. During a downtown scuffle involving the cops, Hampton arrived by car upon the scene and knocked the phone camera out of the hand of an innocent bystander, Mam, who was giving away about 100 lbs. to Officer Hampton. After throwing the hapless Mam around like a rag doll, Hampton tossed him in the Fullerton clink where he was charged with assaulting a cop, a story Hampton testified to under oath. Was he ever punished? Of course not. Under “Chief Danny” Big Bad Ham seems to have been promoted to a desk job.
MADD Heroes. Far right “Sonny” Siliceo contemplates the downside of an honest future. Tim Gibert, top left, contemplates a career at the Home Depot key duplicator.
And then there is the laundry list of incompetence or indifference. We first met Miguel “Sonny” Siliceo as he tagged one Emanuel Martinez who spent five months at Theo Lacy courtesy of a deliberate misidentification. Spoke-sphincter Andrew Goodrich comforted us with the words “we try to arrest the right guy.” Years later Siliceo, in a different matter, was convicted of filing a false police report, something very, very hard to accomplish.
To swerve and deflect
And to round out our categories of misconduct, we must pause, I suppose, at least for a moment to reflect on a few of the various petty crimes and thievery perpetrated by our boys and girls in blue.Todd Major ripped off Explorer Scouts to feed his pill habit.April Baughman ripped off the property room of $50,000. Kelly Mejia tried to boost an i-Pad right under the watchful security cameras at the Miami airport. Hugo Garcia was apparently told his services were no longer required after being busted for purloining something or other (off duty, of course; on duty the man was a veritable saint). And then there was the tale of Officer Timothy Gibert, another MADD awardee who got popped out in the high desert defrauding home improvement stores. Just how many small-time thieves and pickpockets we have employed over the years will never be known for sure.
So, finally, let’s end this painful revelation with the not-so funny story about Josh Eddleman and Jerrie Harvey two innocent people jailed and prosecuted due to the bungling of newly minted “detective” Barry Coffman, best known for his enthusiastic handing out of tickets for “excessive horning.” Once againSpokesanus Goodrich informed the public that the FPD really, does try to arrest the right people, gosh darn it, a statement so insincere that maybe not even David Whiting would believe it.
Of course this quivering pyramid of gelatin was the President of the Fullerton Peace Officer’s Association for years and years, supporting political candidates who could be counted on to serve and protect his wayward union members while bestowing lavish pay and benefits.
And here is the nexus of casual corruption: without a compliant city council and their hand-picked city manager, this sad litany of crime and no punishment would be an awful lot shorter. The cop union, along with their “firefighter” brethren and sistren diligently help elect reliable stooges to the city council through vast campaign spending via their political action committees. And what a roll call of dunderheads, incompetents, buffoons, seniles, lackeys and assorted political grifters they have greased into office.
Don’t forget the lengthy corn-pone career of possibly third degree syphilitic Doc Hee Haw – Dick Jones – who once blurted to an aggrieved citizen at a council meeting “you won’t get anywhere bad-mouthing the police in this town.”
Loretta and I were getting our nails done…oh, and socks…
Sharon Quirk-Silva was marginally smart enough to dodge the Kelly Thomas fallout and the subsequent recall. But like almost all of Fullerton’s liberal establishment crowd, she blamed the murder on homelessness, not on bad cops. She ignored the cover-up, and did nothing about the Albert Rincon matter, despite proclaiming her outrage on the nightly news wherein we learned she has daughters.
Of course Doug was in need of assistance himself when his carpetbaggin’ wife, Paulette was busted on video stealing campaign signs on private property.
The designated driver is on the way…
The cop union knows when it has a live one on the line, and never has that bee more true of Jan Flory, who not only trotted around the city council track in the 1990s, she did so again in 2012 with the help of a hundred thou’ of union scrilla. Maybe her vote on the [email protected] was fondly remembered, but more likely the support was for favors to come. Of course she delivered by approving pay raises and by paying out vast legal settlements against Fullerton police that avoided the embarrassment of ugly stuff getting out at trial. Everything gets hushed up and we pay for the silence. And of course, no, reform was not on the table.
I’m not telling the truth and you can’t make me…
No story of the symbiosis between cops and politicians in Fullerton is complete without mention of our lobbyist councilcreature Jennifer Fitzgerald, who has a career monetizing her job “representing” you and me. Jen’ has made it her specialty to cozy up to the cops, including pay raises, quiet settlements costing us millions, and even wasting $50K a year on the utterly moronic “Behind the Badge” propaganda embarrassment. Holier than holy, her best pal was “Chief Danny” with whom she may have conspired, in the early morning of November 9, 2016, to have the cops drive drunken, hit-and-run Joe Burt Felz home and then tuck him in with a warm glass of milk.
Dazed and confused
And most recently we see the completely dim and inarticulate Jesus Silva, installed in office courtesy of the police union. One wonders how this nincompoop manages to get his shoelaces tied without help, and yet we can be sure of one thing – he will slavishly follow the example of his better half, Sharon Quirk in support of the people who put him in office.
This blog has written countless stories about the sordid tale of former Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz’s Wild Ride back on Election Night 2016 when he hit a tree and allegedly attempted to flee the scene of the crime.
This blog actually filed a complaint with the city which led to the firing of Sergeant Jefferey Corbett who is now facing a felony rap over this incident.
For context we also wrote about when former Chief Danny Hughes said the following at a nuisance hearing back in 2017 (emphasis added):
“When there is a, especially in the city of Fullerton, where there is somebody, whether it be a City Council Member or in this particular case the City Manager, those types of incidents are gonna, what I would describe, blow up. No matter what that decision is made regarding the outcome of that case there there will be allegations and conspiracy theories and all sorts of information that comes from that.”
Really we’ve been watching this story since it started and now we have some salient details to share with you good citizens. So let us put Hughes’ conspiracy take to the test.
Here is FPD’s version of the actual events that happened on election night 2016 starting with what Officer Gibert told the investigators tasked with looking into the complaint against the FPD handling of the Joe Felz DUI incident (emphasis added):
“Gibert said he had six and a half years of experience as a police officer. Gibert said he had conducted approximately 700 D.U.I. investigations and assisted in an additional 150 to 200 D.U.I. investigations. Gibert acknowledged that he was taught to enforce the law without any favor.”
I asked Gibert to tell me what he recalled regarding his involvement from the collision investigation involving former City Manager, Joe Felz. Gibert told me the following:”
The radio call was of a vehicle collision. While Gibert was on his way to the location, dispatch advised the vehicle was trying to leave the scene. Gibert was the first officer on-scene and as he arrived, he saw the vehicle travelling west bound. The vehicle appeared to be disabled, but was still partially moving. Gibert then initiated a vehicle stop and as a result, the vehicle came to a halt. As he was exiting his unit, the vehicle began to move again. Gibert put his unit back into drive not knowing if the vehicle was going to try to leave. They moved a very short distance and came to a complete stop. Gibert then placed the front of his police unit bumper up against the vehicle’srear bumper in case he tried to flee again. Gibert explained that he tried to pin his unit up against the vehicle so the suspect would not endanger any civilians; this also positioned Gibert to possibly conduct a P.I.T. maneuver if it were necessary.”
At that point in time, the vehicle stopped. Gibert believed Corporal Jim Boline was next on–scene and walked up on his passenger side. They ordered the driver (Joe Felz) out of the vehicle. Gibert had the Felz facing away from him. As Gibert placed Felz’s hands behind his back, he identified himself as Fullerton City Manager, Joe Felz. Gibert stopped his investigation or any questioning at that time and had Felz sit on the front bumper of his police unit. Gibert then requested for a Sergeant to respond to the location.“
But then, oddly these bits come out:
“As he was handling the traffic collision, he chose to not mark “hit and run” on the form because of the distance from Felz’s vehicle to where the initial collision occurred.”
He had to do force the vehicle to stop and prepare for a P.I.T. maneuver but didn’t consider it a hit and run? That makes little to no sense.
That then compounds another problem:
“I asked Gibert if he was aware of the email sent by C.S.I. Technician Victoria Mayhew to Lieutenant Mike Chocek. Gibert said he was not familiar with the email. As a result, I read him the content of the email. Gibert commented by stating the portion of the email involving him was accurate. Once Mayhew arrived on scene, Gibert told her to just photograph the damaged tree. Gibert said he was trying to limit the exposure of how many people were involved with this case.Gibert stated that C.S.I. would not normally photograph the vehicle since this was not a hit and run investigation.”
Gibert, with 700 DUI investigations under his belt, saw Felz try to flee a scene and smelled alcohol on the suspect. Owing to Felz’s position of authority a Sergeant was called. That Sergeant was Jeffery Corbett.
“On September 7, 2017, FPD Records personnel performed a CAD search to reveal how many DUI investigations Sergeant Jeff Corbett conducted within the last 5 years. Zero investigations were located.“
For a DUI investigation an Officer with 700 DUI investigations was replaced by one with 0 in five years. In fact, Corbett wasn’t even certified as a Drug Recognition Expert according to Officer Franke:
“Corbett was decertified as a D.R.E. because he did not submit the required recertification paperwork to Sacramento. To Franke’s knowledge, Corbett has not attempted to get recertified as a D.R.E. since then.”
Everything Corbett did looks to have been wrong and done simply to not collect evidence.
“In regards to the Walk & Turn test, Franke’s overall feeling was as if Corbett was conducting a cursory, “Lets hurry up and get this done; I want to see what you’re able to do and not do” type of investigation.”
“According to Franke, it would have been fair for the people of California to see if Felz was or was not intoxicated. It would have also offered the opportunity to offer exculpatory evidence that would have been fair to Felz. What Corbett did on scene, was a “Gross deviation” of the training he received in the past from Franke and the D.R.E. Program. Franke stated that it seemed as though the test was stopped to prevent any more incriminating evidence to be revealed.”
It goes on to explain what Corbett did and why he claims to have done it and here are the big takeaways (emphasis added):
“I then asked what Corbett meant when he told Officer Haid, “Nobody has done any FSTs, nobody’s done a breathalyzer, so technically we don’t have to go deuce, we can just a do a TC and drive him back.”Corbett said he had already spoken to the Watch Commander (Lieutenant Goodrich) and Chief Hughes at that point and he was explaining to Haid that he was not aware what part of the incident was to be handled by Fullerton PD. Corbett added that he did in fact know that Fullerton PD was at least going to handle the traffic collision report portion of the incident. I asked Corbett to elaborate on what he meant because his answer was not directly answering my question, nor was it making sense. Corbett then added that he was trying not to reveal too much too Haid of what he and Chief Hughes spoke about via telephone. At that point in the interview, I told Corbett that phone records indicated his conversation with Haid was in fact after his first call to Goodrich, but before his calls to Chief Hughes. Corbett then said that did not change anything because he was still waiting on a call back to see what direction the Chief wanted the investigation to take.“
“I asked why it took approximately 1-hour to start the FSTs. Corbett replied stating that the back and forth phone calls caused the delay in having Felz start the tests. I asked Corbett when he last conducted a DUI investigation on his own. Corbett said about 1-year prior to the incident.”
“Sergeant Corbett said no he was not trained that way, but was only asked by Chief Hughes to obtain a preliminary assessment and that’s why he only had Joe Felz do those two tests.“
“Sergeant Corbett stated that he specifically remembered Chief Hughes requesting either a “couple” or a “few” tests for the “assessment”. I asked Sergeant Corbett if he interpreted that as two tests and he said yes.”
“I asked Corbett if he had knowledge of the on-scene officers’ expertise as it relates to D.U.I. investigations. Corbett stated yes, but Chief Hughes instructed him to be the lead.“
“I asked Corbett if he remembered asking Joe Felz if he had recently been drinking alcohol that morning and he said yes. I asked Corbett if he could remember Joe Felz’sresponse and it was, “Yes.” Corbett said he asked this question because he could actually smell alcohol on Felz’s breath. I then asked why Corbett did not have any follow-up questions after Joe Felz admitted to have consumed alcohol. Corbett again stressed that he was not conducting a full D.U.I. investigation and only wanted to obtain basic information to report back the Chief Hughes. I then asked Corbett why he didn’t ask Joe Felz if he had been drinking prior to the two tests he had him perform. Corbett again said he did not ask Joe Felz prior to the FSTs because he was only asked to do a preliminary assessment.”
“I then asked if Corbett has ever terminated his questioning after asking the subject if they had been drinking like he did with Felz in the past. Corbett did not directly answer my question and again said he was only asked by Chief Hughes to get a physical assessment.“
“I asked Corbett if he remembered turning the 502 form in with the police report and he responded by saying that there was “no need to.” I asked Corbett to explain why he thought it was not necessary to turn in the form. Corbett said it was irrelevant because there was no arrest. I asked if Corbett still had the 502 form or if he discarded it. Corbett said it was discarded.”
“I asked why there was a delay in Corbett downloading his body-worn-camera and he did not recall or explain why that occurred.”
“I asked Corbett if he remembered showing Chief Hughes a printed copy of his police report draft. I asked why he showed the report to Hughes prior to it being sent through the normal Versadex chain. Corbett said Chief Hughes requested it. I asked if it was normal operating procedure for him to show a draft of the police report on a Word document as opposed to submitting it via the internal report database (Versadex). Corbett said it was normal because that is how it was requested by Chief Hughes.”
“Corbett wanted to make it clear that his actions were just a “preliminary assessment” of Joe Felz’s intoxication level. Corbett said that if he was conducting a full D.U.I. investigation, he would have had Felz perform more tests and the 502 form would have been completed which included all associated questions found on the form. Corbett did not go that route because he was directed by Chief Hughes who only wanted a simple “assessment of Felz’ intoxication level”. Corbett was asked by Chief Hughes to perform a couple tests and that’s what he did. Once Corbett obtained the assessment, he called Chief Hughes to relay the information. Corbett then was waiting to see if he was going to handle the rest of the investigation or relinquish the incident to another agency. Corbett again said that he would have done more if he was told to investigate further.“
It certainly reads like Danny Hughes misled the city council at the very least and orchestrated the Felz cover-up from the start.
Hughes claimed in his letter to council the following:
“I informed the Watch Commander that I would call the sergeant to obtain additional information and that I would have the field sergeant conduct a preliminary assessment by performing Field Sobriety Tests and if the sergeant believed there was a level of intoxication that met the criteria to be a violation of the law, we would contact the CHP to investigate.”
The CHP were not contacted and Sergeant Corbett did not conduct a full investigation.
Every peace officer who files any report with the agency which employs him or her regarding the commission of any crime or any investigation of any crime, if he or she knowingly and intentionally makes any statement regarding any material matter in the report which the officer knows to be false, whether or not the statement is certified or otherwise expressly reported as true, is guilty of filing a false report punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year, or in the state prison for one, two, or three years. This section shall not apply to the contents of any statement which the peace officer attributes in the report to any other person.
My suspicion that it was related to Felz’s accident was spot on, though it looks like it was done without (or around) the Grand Jury. Danny Hughes clearly threw Corbett under the bus and was given a pass.
Who wants to lay odds that this goes to trial or that the “false report” sees the light of day.